Wollongong Wolves took an early lead and then came from behind Marconi to draw an entertaining game in Wollongong tonight.
With their U20 internationals Alex Brosque and Michael Thwaite back Marconi coach Jean-Paul De Marigny dropped consistent squad players Todd Brodie and Shane Webb to the bench and also promoted Brendan Renaud. After 3 losses in two weeks Marconi was desperate for some points.
The Wolves came into the game with the momentum of 5 games without defeat and an encouraging pre-Christmas crowd, who enjoyed Santas visit by helicopter at half-time.
It was the Wolves who struck first, with a 2nd minute corner taken on the left by Nahuel Arrarte and assisted by the breeze as it was, coming from the ocean side, it was being uncontested as it sailed into the goal area, but experienced striker Stuart Young ghosted in to head easily past Marconi 'keeper Michael Turnbull.
Marconi came back strongly to dominate the rest of the first half, and a good chance was not taken as early as the 3rd minute when Luke Casserly got a corner over from the left to Brendan Renaud but his shot was weak and did not trouble the Wolves 'keeper Andrew Crews, who had a solid game.
Marconi's movement off the ball was good and they played the ball into the Wolves defensive zone many times without being able to get a shot on target. The Wolves almost grabbed a 2nd in the 14th minute when from a Michael Hawrysiuk long throw Chimaobi Nwaogazi under pressure almost got his shot on target.
Marconi's best spell came when within 4 minutes Alex Brosque turned on a ball just outside the area and got his shot away on target only to see Crews smother it, then Joe Spiteri shot from 25m but straight at Crews, and Brosque then got a forcefull header on target only to have Crews palm it to his left and to safety.
Hawrysuik had a wild shot from the edge of the area but generally the Wolves lacked any penetration. In in the 45th minute, just when it looked like Marconi would stay impotent for the whole match Nick Carle, who had hardly been sighted before that, turned on a ball at the edge of the area, and slotted it into the top corner of the net.
Shortly after the break Brad Maloney emerged from a pack of players meleeing in the Wolves area after a corner was dropped into the 'mixer' by Casserly, and he was able to push home a goal.
In the 55th minute Spiteri beat the offside trap, and got Maloney away however his shot was blocked, and the ball rebounded for Brosque to then line up a shot however he butchered it.
Marconi contuned to press as they had done in the first half but the Wolves slowly got back in the game, with more wide play and balls into Young and Nwaogazi. In the 68th minute a mix up between Turnbull and Angelo Costanzo allowed Nwaogazi to get the ball free and Stuart Young pounced, turned, and shot past a stranded Turnbull.
Alas for the local fans seven minutes later Maloney back heeled a ball from the goal-line to Brosque who made no mistake this time in slotting it home.
The Wollongong side, cheered on by their fans, pressured the visitors seeking the equaliser, and in the 81st minute Nwaogazi intelligently forced a corner out of Turnbull. From the kick Young hit a header onto the post whence it rebounded to Nwaogazi. The Nigerian striker half struck half bounced the ball into the net to the delight of the locals - his fifth goal in five games.
It was all Wolves for last 12 minutes, with Young hitting one just over the crossbar and then another on target forcing a save out of Turnbull.
Best for the Wolves were Stuart Young, Andrew Crews, Nahuel Arrarte, Adam Hughes, Chimaobi Nwaogazi and Borislav Dragas. Marconi's best were Alex Brosque, Brad Maloney, and Chad Gibson.
Another excellent result for Wollongong, still climbing the ladder, and Marconi at least showed more life than last Saturday. The fans got an early Christmas present - an entertaining games with some good goals.